Are you making the most of your quarterly cycles? The point of breaking up the year into quarterly cycles should not simply be to keep your financials in check, but to accelerate business growth with short-term projects. The best way to do this is to focus on the projects that will make the biggest difference to your business, or what Brad Hams calls “Rapid Improvement Plans”.
Overnight success does not exist. Rather, success is the result of cyclical goal-orientated actions. Rapid Improvement Projects (RIPs) support this way of thinking and provide a practical way to turn this belief into concrete business practice.
What are Rapid Improvement Projects?
At Beyond, we have a lot of clients who work with cycles, from weekly to monthly to quarterly to yearly. The quarterly cycle is usually strategy focused and provides a great opportunity for business owners to not only review how successful or not the last quarter was, but to plan ahead for the next quarter. Every business quarter lasts 13 weeks, which is enough time to start and finish a project with significant results.
Hams explains that, “The objective of a RIP is to attack and improve one Key Performance Indicator (KPI) at a time with a high-involvement detailed plan.” A RIP could be anything, from implementing a new system to conducting a campaign for a certain sector of your client base to simply hiring a new person to your team. If your focus in on scaling up then you might even take on a few RIPs each quarter!
Make yourself accountable for business growth
When it comes down to it, RIPs are all about proactively driving your business rather than just measuring what is happening. I’ve helped instigate the discipline of quarterly meetings with our clients at Beyond, and what can sometimes be the magic ingredient to RIP success is making the business owner accountable for a project. At the start of the quarter, our team helps clients set out what their goal is for the next 13 weeks and devises a plan so they can achieve it. Then, at the end of the quarter, we will ask them if they managed to do the project and what results they got.
For example, we had one client working in IT services who had realised that for a certain segment of small but longstanding clients he was underselling his services. So his RIP was to get a listing of these small clients from his system and to increase their prices by 30% with the understanding that 25% may not accept the price increase and disappear. Ultimately, this exercise would put his business in a stronger position for longterm growth. It was a job that required hours of manual labour such as segmenting customers, sending emails, replying to client queries, updating invoices, etc. But it was worth it because this RIP directly improved his net profit by over 10% in just one year!
As you can see, getting RIP’d is all about taking a razor focus to one carefully chosen goal that you can attack and deliver in 13 weeks. Choosing the goal is just as important as how you implement it because you want to devise a RIP that will have a recognisably positive effect on your business in a short space of time. My advice for you today is to sit down with your management team and brainstorm all the way you can give your business a good workout, so you enter the next cycle in tiptop shape!